Euphorbia is an annual herb, ascending or erect unto 50 r cms high. It grows as a weed and is known by various names like Australian asthma weed, snake weed and cat's hair. It has round stems, covered with yellowish hairs, small leaves, dark. green on the upper side and pale on the lower side and minute whitish flowers in small stalked clusters. It has small hairy fruits and 3-angled, wrinkled, light reddish brown seeds. The entire plant, collected in flowering and fruit bearing stages and dried, constitutes the drug.
The herb attracted the attention of allopathic physicians many years ago. They came to India and it was at their instance that the drug was introduced into Europe somewhere around 1884. The alcoholic extract of the whole plant is used in modem allopathic medicine.
The chemistry of the drug shows it to contain gallic acid, quercetin, a new phenolic substance, traces of an essential oil besides those of an alkaloid.
The leaves are useful in arresting bleeding and in counteracting spasmodic disorders. They relieve feverishness and produce a feeling of coolness. They have a soothing effect on the skin and the mucous membranes. They serve as a mild laxative Leaves have a hard cellulose content. Raw juice, paste, powder and decoction can be made from 15 grams of these leaves and mixed with 5 grams of holy basil or tullsi.
The drug enjoys a great reputation in Ayurvedic system of medicine and is believed to be a most effective remedy for diseases of the respiratory tract in general, especially cough, coryza or colds in the head, bronchitis and asthma. It has a depressant action on the heart and respiration besides producing a relaxation of the bronchioles.
Euphorbia is useful in treating diarrhoea. About 12 grams of the herb ground in water can be taken to check the disease.
Euphorbia is beneficial in the treatment of gonorrhoea and other venereal diseases. The plant is also useful in impotency, premature ejacueation and spermatorrhoea or involuntary ejaculation.
Its leaves possess anthelmintic properties and are useful in treating intestinal worms amongst children.
The plant is very helpful in promoting formation and flow .of breast milk amongst nursing mothers.
The leaves of the plant are useful in the treatment of skin disorders like ulcers. The paste of the plant can also be applied beneficially on wounds and bums. The milky juice of the plant is useful in the treatment of warts. It should be applied externally on the affected area.
The milky juice of the plant can be applied on lips and tongue, in case of cracking or chapping.
Precautions: The drug should not be taken in large doses as it may cause irritation in the stomach and result in vomiting.
Hair Tonic: Applied on the head, the milky juice of the plant is useful in promoting hair growth.